Zombie news: Apocalypse movies helped people prepare for the pandemic, study shows

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Researchers from Penn State University, USA, have discovered how apocalyptic stories helped fans prepare for the current Covid-19 pandemic. The researchers asked more than 300 participants to fill out a survey which calculated an individual’s positive and negative resilience to situations.

The survey then asked a set of six questions which analysed how prepared someone was for the pandemic.

Participants were then asked to indicate which movie genres they most cared for, according to the research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

The researchers found that those who were fans of horror and zombie movies were most mentally prepared for the pandemic.

John Johnson, professor emeritus of psychology at Penn State, said: “My latest research collaboration was unique in that my colleagues wanted to identify factors beyond personality that contributed to people’s psychological preparedness and resilience in the face of the pandemic.

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“After factoring out personality influences, which were actually quite strong, we found that the more movies about zombies, alien invasions and apocalyptic pandemics people had seen prior to Covid-19, the better they dealt with the actual, current pandemic.

“These kinds of movies apparently serve as mental rehearsal for actual events.

“To me, this implicates an even more important message about stories in general — whether in books, movies or plays.

“Stories are not just entertainment, but preparation for life.

“What we found was that people who watched certain kinds of movies before the pandemic seemed to be helped by them during the pandemic.”

However, the researchers said it would be too late to begin watching zombie movies now to get used to the pandemic.

Nonetheless, by watching apocalyptic movies, people can prepare for future challenges.

Prof Johnson added: “I’m not sure that watching such movies now would be helpful for our current situation.

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“However, my understanding of pandemics and other life-challenging events is that similar future challenges are absolutely inevitable.

“The past is often forgotten too easily. Who remembered the Spanish flu epidemic until scientists brought up that piece of history during Covid-19?

“This reinforces my belief that consuming stories from books, films and maybe even video games is not just an idle pastime, but a way for us to imagine simulated realities that help prepare us for future challenges.”

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